Rural round-up

September 18, 2014

The most boring bankrupt economic argument–“we export raw logs when we could be adding value and making jobs” : Eye to the Long Run:

The rot set in in the late 1940s on this. Jim Anderton was maybe the first in the modern era to believe we wantonly refused to profit from the blindingly obvious money and jobs to be had from processing timber.

In recent times only Winston Peters has been bright enough to see what the entire business sector has apparently completely missed.

Now, joining him as a value add timber processing expert we have the lawyer from Herne Bay – Mr Cunliffe who has spotted the opportunity.

It is, you understand, not so profitable that any of them would give up their day job… it never is, is it? . . .

Future of red meat promotion under threat – Allan Barber:

Next year’s Commodity Levy Act referendum is one of the factors concentrating meat industry minds on the question of red meat promotional investment. B+LNZ is currently conducting a consultation round with individual meat companies to find out how this critically important, if contentious, topic should be agreed for the benefit of all industry participants.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Scott Champion told me it’s too early to make any predictions about the outcome, at least until after completion of the consultation round at the end of September. With the referendum about 12 months away, the process is geared to providing time to gather enough detail for promotional strategy development before taking this out to farmers to test it in advance of the vote. . . 

New Zealand’s Hake and Ling Join Top 8% of World’s Sustainable Fisheries:

Hake and ling from New Zealand are now among the top 8% of global sustainable fish species after being recognised by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Each of the three New Zealand hake trawl fisheries, five ling trawl fisheries and five ling long line fisheries have been certified as sustainable against the MSC standard – the ‘gold standard’ for sustainable seafood production.

Only 8% of the world’s wild-capture harvest is certified through the global MSC programme which sets high internationally-accepted standards for sustainable fishing and provides consumers with assurance that MSC certified seafood is sustainable, based on sound, independent science. . .

 

Rural New Zealand wants gigabit equality:

Federated Farmers and TUANZ believe it is essential the next Government delivers better connectivity to rural New Zealand, and is keen to work with them to make that happen.

“We are encouraged by the National Party’s further commitment of $150million, if they’re re-elected, and hope to see a similar commitment from our next Government announced this Saturday” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Telecommunications Spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers and TUANZ support a Gigabit Agenda for Rural New Zealand that doesn’t leave our productive sector behind. We need to talk about gigabit speeds, where farmers can eventually get their gigabytes as fast as the townies do. . . .

 The right people trained the right way -  Craig Littin:

Our recently released Manifesto talks about building a sustainable farm system giving us the collective means to go forward as a nation.  We can and we will be more than we are today, but to do that we need the right people trained the right way.

Firstly we need to look at what we are trying to achieve. We need to have the young people of New Zealand believing that farming is the attractive career option that it is. We also need to put our money where our mouth is in terms of investing in education, science, research and innovation.

There are some great stories out there of the highly skilled people in our industry who have worked through the agricultural industry to now run multimillion dollar businesses, on very attractive salaries. These opportunities are available to anyone with the enthusiasm, intellect and discipline required to make it in the dairy industry, but we need sound education systems to get the right people into the industry. To do this we need to align the requirements and standards to fulfil job roles with the qualifications offered within primary industry training/education institutes. . . .

Molkerei Ammerland Completes First Sweet Whey Powder Auction on Globaldairytrade:

Sweet whey powder has been sold for the first time on GlobalDairyTrade (GDT), the world’s leading online dairy auction platform, with Molkerei Ammerland selling the product they offered at their first trading event.

Molkerei Ammerland CEO Ralf Hinrichs said the company was pleased with the results from the first SWP online auction.

“Through GDT we have been able to extend our reach to a larger number of customers, and to transact with them much faster. We’re looking forward to using GDT to grow our export market,” he said. . .

Tasman Tanks Appoints Craig Hemmings as Dairy Effluent Sector Manager:

Leading New Zealand and Australian storage tank company Tasman Tanks, has appointed Craig Hemmings as dairy effluent sector manager.

Mr Hemmings brings to his position more than a decade of management experience with nationally and internationally recognised agricultural companies.

As dairy effluent sector manager for Tasman Tanks, Mr Hemmings will oversee the operational management of the company’s dairy effluent division in New Zealand.

“From small beginnings in 1996, Tasman Tanks has built its reputation on designing, manufacturing and installing fully engineered and certified tanks,” said Mr Hemmings. . .

 Central Otago Wine Industry no longer a “One Trick Pony”:

As we have come to expect, Central Otago wines dominated the medals for pinot noir at the 2014 New Zealand International Wine Show, taking out 10 of the 15 Gold Medals awarded. But what is more interesting about the results of this show is that Central Otago wines won medals in a total of 10 different wine categories – Methode Traditionelle, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Dessert Wine, Rose, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

Now in its tenth year, The New Zealand International Wine Show is firmly established as the largest wine competition held in New Zealand each year. The 2014 New Zealand International Wine Show was judged from 8th to 10th September in Auckland and attracted a total of 2130 entries. Trophies will be awarded at the Awards Dinner on 27 September. . .


Why we need 90 day trial

September 18, 2014

This example of an unscrupulous worker highlights why we need 90 day trial periods:

Federated Farmers believes the experience of a husband and wife farming team in Taranaki underscores why the 90-days provision is so important to small businesses.

“Yesterday a member called 0800 FARMING to alert us to a guy doing the rounds in Taranaki who may be gaming employment laws,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Employment spokesperson.

“He appeared to be a keen farmworker but became insistent that all he needed to start was a handshake. This guy even told the couple concerned that he could see they were under pressure so even offered to pitch his tent.

“They did exactly the right thing by getting him to sign Federated Farmers’ industry standard employment contract before starting. That’s where the bush lawyer emerged as he tried to get clauses modified.

“Lucky for them they stuck to their guns and to Federated Farmers agreement and advice. As it turns it wasn’t a long employment relationship lasting a mere 4.5 days.

“On the very first day there was a major argument over helmet use where he refused to wear one. He turned up to work another day wearing a balaclava asking if, “it intimidated them.”

“Along with a generally unhelpful demeanour it appeared to our member that he was trying to bait them into a summary dismissal.

“They called Federated Farmers 0800 327 646 advice line and followed that advice to the letter dismissing the person under the 90-days provision. His parting shot was “it’s going to cost you.”

“It shouldn’t because they stuck to the law and to Federated Farmers’ advice and contract. No matter how small or short term the role is, never “shake on it” or allow a person to start work before they have signed their employment contract.

“What concerns us is that there are bush lawyers out there who could be looking to game employment laws in order to secure a settlement from unwitting farm employers. Our member wanted this publicised to prevent other farmers from being caught out.

“It is why the 90-days provision is so important and why it would become a feeding frenzy for such people if it were to be axed.

“The 90-days provision is a crucial protection for employers to prevent them from being stuck with unscrupulous workers. Our member told us their last employee only left after four years in order to go sharemilking.

“They were fine because they had systems in place backed up by Federated Farmers’ employment contracts and member advice. If you haven’t got your systems together you seriously risk an employment law shellacking,” Mr Hoggard warned.

Labour and the unions always promote the worker as the weaker one in the employer-employee relationship.

But it is very difficult to get rid of a worker who isn’t working out and it’s not just the business that suffers as a result of that, it’s other staff when the dud worker poisons the workplace.

 


NZIER: water taxes will suck Otago & Canterbury dry

September 18, 2014

Water taxes could become a regional tax on Canterbury and Otago, seriously impacting those regional economies.

This is the conclusion of a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) report for Federated Farmers.

Care needs  to  be  taken  when  considering  taxing  competitive  agricultural  sectors since  countries  which  have  done  so  without  strong  justification  have  performed poorly (e.g. Argentina).

While there is little policy relevant data to tell us how much water is being used by the rural sector, preliminary estimates suggest that for every cent (per cubic metre of water) the rural sector is charged, $39 million will be taken out of rural communities.

This assumes  that  the  policy  is  enforceable  and  that  any  exceptions  could  be adequately  accommodated.1

Further, if  focused  on  irrigation  only,  the  tax  will predominantly fall on Canterbury and Otago  water users  (see following table), while traditional dairying areas such as Taranaki and Waikato will pay a minimal water tax.

While water  quality  is  reasonably  good,  maintaining  water  quality  is  a  major challenge that needs  to be overcome  with the  spotlight firmly on non-point  source agricultural run-off. Farmers need to be proactive in addressing this issue or others (e.g.  over-zealous  regulators, foreign consumers)  will do so  instead, possibly in ways that are less efficient for farmers and the country than an industry-driven initiative.

Doing nothing about water quality  is  not a sensible  option.  Neither is rushing ahead without sufficient information.  

But this is not a new problem. New Zealand can learn from other countries’ water quality regulatory experiences here and hopefully avoid making their mistakes. Some key lessons are:

  •  Addressing water quality that impacts on agriculture is a long term game. Rash decisions made now could have significant and costly unintended consequences
  •  Use science to determine minimum flows to sustain healthy water ways, and be flexible and adaptive in the management of the environment as scientific knowledge improves
  •  Using markets to allocate water between competing uses can be efficient and effective when conditions allow, but be aware that market forces alone will not solve all problems
  •  Water taxes will not be an effective allocation mechanism if significant physical, regulatory or information barriers exist. Specifically, further work is required in understanding the detailed water use trade-offs since we lack the necessary policy-relevant information, data and institutional capability
  •  Where possible, including urban areas within the same water allocation and trading framework will improve efficiency. . . .

It compares the policies of the National, Labour and Green parties and says:

There certainly  needs  to  be  a  step  up  in  primary  sector  –  and  other  sectors’  – responsiveness to this issue. But durable, effective water  trading  solutions take time to develop and must be based on robust analysis and facts, not rhetoric and ideology.

Voters should  be  wary  about  promised  policy  outcomes  when  the  evidence  base around  the  economic,  environmental,  social  and  cultural  impacts  of  the  proposed policies is far from complete. . .

There are no credible arguments against the importance of good water quality, the need to prevent degradation of water ways and clean up the dirty ones.

But imposing a water tax on Canterbury and Otago farmers to address problems all over the country, some of which have nothing to do with irrigation or farming, is not the answer to poor water quality in some areas and will create other problems.

It will also impose huge costs on a relatively small number of farmers in two regions:

“Let’s not kid ourselves that the road Labour and the Greens are travelling down with Water Taxes, looks more like regional farming taxes to us,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“The NZIER have calculated that a water tax of one cent on every cubic metre (m3) of water used for irrigated and stock purposes, means $39 million would need to be paid by farmers. 

“While Labour and the Green Party won’t confirm what they are considering, in 2011, the Greens campaigned on ten cents a cubic metre.

“If that happened then Canterbury’s farmers would foot 62 percent of the cost ($248 million) while 21 percent of the cost would fall on Otago’s farmers ($82 million).  Those two regions being where most of New Zealand’s irrigation happens.

“This represents something like a 13 percent bite out of agricultural GDP in Canterbury and 12.5 percent out of Otago’s agricultural GDP.  That’s one heck of a wallop and for what?

“These taxes have little to do with the political rhetoric of tackling water quality. There are plenty of regions with little or no irrigation, which have water quality challenges due to agriculture, industry and municipal influences.  

“It seems more about revenue generation to plug big spending promises and farmers, horticulturalists and vintners in Otago and Canterbury are being lined up to foot the bill.

“There’s no mention that these same businesses already pay thousands of dollars each year in ‘taxes’ to regional and district councils for the privilege  of accessing water.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that water taxes will only drive up the cost of food production, especially locally grown fresh vegetables and fruit.

“Are Kiwis really prepared to gift our domestic food market to other countries by pricing ourselves off the market?

“Labour and the Greens claim it will drive better and more efficient use of water. Well they are too late. Over the past ten years or so, farmers have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading on and off-farm irrigation infrastructure to more efficiently use water.

“This is plainly obvious for all to see in Canterbury with the proliferation of centre pivot irrigators.  With each one costing some $250,000, they allow the farmer to use substantially less water producing more food and fibre over traditional border dykes.

“There’s only so much money to go around for farmers to invest.  These proposed tastes will only slow down or stop a farmers’ ability to invest in new technologies.

“You’ve got to remember that we’re only using a fraction of New Zealand’s renewable freshwater resource, but the proper word is renewing.

“As the NZIER also notes, there are large informational, institutional and implementation gaps on water taxes. In our view, water tax proposals should have ‘use with caution’ in flashing red lights.

“If you want an example of a country with ill-founded and ill-thought out taxes that are like a wrecking ball through the primary industries then Argentina provides it.  Dr William Rolleston visited it earlier this year and saw for himself how everyone loses out there.

“By attacking Canterbury and Otago irrigators, there is such a dislocation between who you tax and the problem you want to solve, that the only thing you hurt is the economy.

“That’s why the media, politicians and commentators need to heed NZIER’s advice that, “care needs to be taken when considering taxing competitive agricultural sectors since countries which have done so without strong justification have performed poorly”.

“With some trading partners increasingly believing we are not responsibly harnessing our water resources to guarantee production, this is no place for policy experiments,” Mr Mackenzie finished by saying.

We don’t need an expensive experiment the direct costs of which will be carried by a relatively small number of farmers and the indirect costs of which will impact on Otago and Canterbury.

We need more of what’s already working.

This includes independently audited environmental plans for farms, which is what the North Otago Irrigation Company requires of all its water users.

Farmers already had lots of reasons to vote for another National-led government. This report provides them with more.


Rural round-up

September 15, 2014

Forestry workers dodge poachers’ bullets – Sonita Chandar:

Forestry workers are dodging bullets from poachers, says a forest manager.

They are being fired at by people hunting wild pigs illegally released in the private forests.

”Our staff shouldn’t have to worry about going to work and being shot, but this is the reality,” said Phil De La Mare, Otago regional manager for forestry plantation company, Ernslaw One.

”These unpermitted hunters forget it is a workplace and go shooting any time, even when there are people out working.

”Their actions are putting our staff and contractors in a risky situation and for us.

”Providing a safe workplace environment has become a challenge.” . .

 Putting Rustling back into the history books – Rick Powdrell:

Contrary to talk, the meat and fibre industries are not broken as the fundamentals to take both sectors forward to much greater heights remain. Still, it requires an entire industry shared vision going forward and that’s of course easier said than done.

 This undoubtedly involves strong leadership accompanied by a strong grassroots involvement.  It hardly entails re-inventing the wheel, but rather more awareness of the areas we need to improve and a path developed to redeem theses issues.

 The red meat sector strategy has already identified significant issues, with the Beef + Lamb: Red Meat Profit Partnership focusing on topics behind the farm gate with the aim of lifting on farm performance.

 This collaboration of Beef + Lamb NZ, meat companies, banks and government foreshadows a united industry approach. . .

NZ exports to EU may face stricter pesticide standards – Yvonne O’Hara:

New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable export trade to Europe could be affected by as much as $600 million if a proposed European Union (EU) reduction of some pesticide residue levels on imported food goes ahead, Agcarm chief executive Graeme Peters says.

The European Commission (EC) had been looking at regulating common crop protection products that had endocrine-disrupting properties. The EC believed reducing endocrine-disrupting pesticides would benefit the environment; be good for the health of growers, workers, rural communities and consumers; and boost the economy.

It will release criteria to identify those properties in the next few weeks. . .

Commission releases final report on 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year as part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act’s milk price monitoring regime. The review assesses whether Fonterra’s calculation approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently and provides for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk.

The most significant issue in this year’s review has been Fonterra’s decision to pay farmers an adjusted price for the 2013/14 season that is less than the milk price calculated under the company’s Milk Price Manual.

The Commission’s overall findings are that the way Fonterra is calculating and applying its proposed adjustment to the base milk price is not consistent with incentives for it to operate efficiently; however, the approach is consistent with contestability in the market under the Act. . .

Field day to give insight into rural work  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is to hold its second field day on September 17 at Brian Hughes’ yard at Waimatua, near Invercargill, from 10am to 3pm.

RCNZ vice-president and contractor David Kean, of Centre Bush, said the field day, held in association with Work and Income, encouraged people to find out what it was like working in the agricultural contracting sector.

”People can drift in and drift out again throughout the day,” Mr Kean said.

Those attending the field day would have the opportunity to drive large tractors and operate an assortment of machinery under supervision. . .

Farmers’ need for speed – Chris Lewis:

We are ready when you are, and we have been ready for some time. The key investors and the next government need to know farmers and rural households are sick of the inferior connectivity they are receiving. We are in the need for speed and reliable connectivity; it is not only imperative for rural productivity, but for empowering rural households.

The agricultural industry generates 73 percent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports, so you would think that the powers and investors that be, would recognise a gaping hole when they see it. What is not ok is that whilst rural businesses and households are paying for the same services as our urban counterparts, we are not getting the same results.

Market research proves rural New Zealand is being neglected. We are armed with the latest devices, on average 9 connectable devices per business and 5 to 6 of those connected at one time, but have limited infrastructure to use them. Chorus recently went to the rural market through Colmar Brunton to find out exactly what we have been dealing with, and it should come as no surprise that they found we have the same level of needs as urban businesses and households. . .

In Burundi, Viola Nsengiyumva turns two acres into a profitable business - Food Tank:

Viola looks out over the two acres of land she and her husband, Deo, inherited from her father. The fields are thick with bushy, yellow-green vines. The beans are ready to be harvested.

Two and a half years ago, Viola’s fields were nearly bare. Even though she and Deo had land, they could not afford the seed and fertilizer needed to plant on all of it. Harvests were low, with just enough to feed the family. There was no surplus to sell for income.

“Before One Acre Fund, we would just manage to have enough to eat. We couldn’t sell anything we grew,” Viola says. “I would go to purchase fertilizer, but I would not be able to buy enough.” . . .

Do You Have the Correct Licence for the Coming Season?:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is urging its members to ensure they have all the correct transport licences for the coming season.

RCNZ president Steve Levet says with the new season fast approaching it is timely for rural contractors and their staff to check to see they have the correct licence AND a ‘Wheels Endorsements’ if required.

“It is incumbent on rural contractors to ensure both they and their staff have all the correct licences when moving their tractors and machinery around the country,” he adds.

“There are no excuses for not having the correct licenses and/or wheels endorsement. If contractors are not sure they should find out – all the necessary information is under the members section of our website: www.ruralcontractors.org.nz .”

Mr Levet says the different types of licences rural contractors may require include: . . .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2014

Coasters nervous about a dry start to spring:

Nervous West Coast farmers are hoping meteorologists are right that a rainmaker is close at hand, with no more than 1 millilitre (mls) falling at Westport over the past 23 days.

“This is the driest start to spring in some years,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast Provincial President.

“Apparently a dry spell is 15 consecutive days with less than one millilitre of rainfall and the South Island has been very dry. Heck, even Milford Sound has been dry for going on 22 days.

“Speaking to the guys at MetService, they say it is down to a persistent high, which has been sitting out to the west that’s meandering its way across the country. . .

 

Turners & Growers enters Chilean JV to grow grapes for first time – Suze Metherell:

 (BusinessDesk) – Turners & Growers, the fruit marketer majority owned by Germany’s BayWa, has entered a joint venture with Unifrutti Chile to grow and export Peruvian grapes.

The joint venture with Italian-owned, Chile-based Unifrutti builds on an existing export relationship with T&G, and is the Auckland-based company’s first foray into grape growing. T&G didn’t disclose any financial details surrounding the deal, saying it will begin planting in Peru later this year with first commercial volumes harvested in late 2015.

T&G’s Delica business already exports grapes and has existing operations in South America, though those haven’t extended to grape growing before. The company already had a commercial relationship with Unifrutti, which is ultimately owned by the Italy-based De Nada International Group, according to its website. . .

Waikato Sharemilkers Enjoy Benefits of Farm Environment Competition:

Entering the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way for Matamata sharemilkers Phil and Kim Dykzeul to find out how their operation stacked up in terms of environmental sustainability.

The Dykzeuls, who 50:50 sharemilk 200 cows on 83ha owned by Richard and Pauline Kean, were thrilled to win three category awards in the 2014 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), including the LIC Dairy Farm Award.

“We were over the moon to win three awards in our first time in the competition,” says Phil. . .

 Important season for black-grass eradication:

With the second season of black-grass operations about to begin, continued vigilance this spring and summer will be crucial to stop the noxious weed from establishing in Mid-Canterbury, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI, supported by industry partners, began a black-grass response following spillage of contaminated seed from a truck travelling between Ashburton and Methven in July last year.

“We didn’t find any black-grass last season and are confident that if it were there the operations team would have found it,” says MPI Response Manager Brad Chandler.

“However, we are also very conscious that if there is any chance of black-grass appearing, it is most likely to show its face this season. So everyone involved, including the public, needs to remain particularly vigilant and keep a lookout.” . . .

Live Lobsters Fly to Export Success:

An increasing volume of valuable export earnings are being generated by the Fiordland Lobster Company (FLC), following its successful pioneering of the live lobster export industry over the past 25 years.

Now exporting about over 800 tonnes of the Kiwi Lobster-branded product (officially known as Jasus edwardsii lobster) each year, the firm’s achievements have been founded on efficient air freight and a well-oiled logistics operation, says FLC group general manager sales and marketing David Prendergast.

“This lobster is considered the sweetest tasting and most succulent variety available and is highly sought after in Asia, where it is the lobster of choice,” he says. . . .

 

 Wool Market Makes Gains:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that at today’s South Island sale there were market gains of up to 2 percent on the back of recent business concluded mainly with Chinese interests.

A limited Merino offering saw best top making types slightly in buyers favour and poorer styles mixed and irregular.

Mid Micron wools when compared to the last South Island sale on the 28th August generally made small gains. 24.5 and 25 micron were firm, 25.5 to 26.5 and 29 to 30.5 micron were 1 to 2 percent dearer while 27 to 28.5 micron were buyers favour. . . .


Farm facts

September 10, 2014


Feds wary of Greens

September 10, 2014

I’d add Finance to that:


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